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Order of Canada

Highest Honour of Lifetime Achievement in Canada

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Updated: 09/12/2013

At least twice a year, usually around New Year's Day and Canada Day, we see lists and news photos of well-known Canadians receiving an Order of Canada medal from the Canadian Governor General. Did you know that you can nominate a deserving Canadian to receive this honour? Here's how.

Purpose of the Order of Canada

The Order of Canada recognizes people who have made a difference to Canada. It is Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Levels of the Order of Canada

There are three levels of the Order of Canada:

  • Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.) - Only 15 awards a year, and only a total of 165 recipients living at any time

  • Officer of the Order of Canada (O.C.) - Up to 64 appointments made every year

  • Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.) - Up to 136 appointments are made each year.

Who is Eligible for the Order of Canada

All living Canadian citizens are eligible for the Order of Canada, with the exception of federal and provincial politicians and judges while they are in office. No posthumous awards are made.

Citizens of other countries are eligible for honorary appointments to the Order of Canada. They are considered for outstanding achievements which bring honour to Canada and for lifetime contributions to humanity in general. Only five honorary appointments can be made each year.

How to Submit a Nomination for the Order of Canada

The nomination form to suggest a deserving Canadian for the Order of Canada is available on the Governor General of Canada Web site. You can search the membership list to make sure the person you want to nominate does not already have an Order of Canada. (Be sure to select Order of Canada from the list.)

All nominations are confidential, so don't inform your nominee.

To complete the form, provide the nominee's full name, home address, telephone and fax numbers, as well as the nominee's profession or occupation, business address, and business phone and fax numbers. Date of birth, sex and citizenship are also required. If the nominee has dual citizenship, indicate the other country of citizenship.

You must also provide your own name, mailing and email address, phone and fax numbers, and sign the form.

Information and Documents Required

To complete the application, provide your reasons for nominating the candidate on a separate sheet of paper or in the covering letter. Include an up-to-date resume for your nominee.

Also provide the names of three people who are familiar with the candidate's accomplishments, and could be expected to support the nomination. The Governor General's office asks that you do not contact these individuals so that the nomination can remain confidential.

Sending the Nomination

Mail the Order of Canada nomination form, covering letter, reasons for the nomination and related information on the candidate to:

Governor General of Canada
Attention: Director of Honours
The Chancellery of Honours
Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1

No stamp is required if mailed in Canada.

Order of Canada Nomination Process

An advisory council chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada deliberates on the nominations and makes recommendations to the Governor General of Canada. The deliberations of the council are kept secret.

The Governor General approves the final appointments.

In total, the nomination process for the Order of Canada can take about two years.

The Chancellery of Honours does independent research on each nomination it receives, including consulting peers, colleagues and members of the Order of Canada. The Advisory Council meets twice a year to consider the nominations (about 400 to 600 a year). Once the Governor General is informed of the Advisory Council's recommendations, the Chancellery contacts the individuals to get their acceptance. Instruments of Appointment are drawn up for the Governor General's signature. Press releases are issued usually on January 1 and July 1.

The official presentation ceremony will then happen anywhere within 2 to 12 months. There are three or four investitures held each year, either at Rideau Hall in Ottawa or at La Citadelle in Quebec City. If the recipient cannot travel, efforts are made to arrange a private ceremony.

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